The alcohol-monitoring device in Jim Leyritz's car likely malfunctioned this week when it refused to allow his car to start, a Florida judge ruled on Friday, and the former major league player will not face any penalties.
Leyritz, who is charged with DUI manslaughter after a December 2007 crash that killed a
woman in Fort Lauderdale, was in court on Friday with his ex-wife, Karri Leyritz, as the matter was heard before Broward County Circuit Judge Marc Gold.
It was less than a day after Leyritz had been discharged from a South Florida hospital, where he had been taken by police after a friend, alarmed by Leyritz's frame of mind, called 911.
Leyritz's attorney, David Bogenschutz, said he was concerned about the accuracy of the device, saying, "I was assured the machine would be fail-safe," according to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.
State prosecutor Stefanie Newman said Leyritz's urine samples, taken after the device failed, did not indicate alcohol use.
"I don't believe there's any issue," Gold said, according to the Sun-Sentinel.
Leyritz, who played 10 years in the majors -- spending more than seven with the New York Yankees -- told the New York Daily News on Friday: "I want people to know that I have cooperated with everything the state and court has asked me to do to prove that I am not doing anything wrong."
Leyritz said that after lunch on Wednesday, he went to start his car, but the device -- which the court had ordered installed after he was charged following the crash -- indicated he had been drinking.
He tried a second time, and the device read that he had not been drinking. According to the Daily News, Leyritz said he had consumed no alcohol but panicked that the device readings would result in his being arrested anyway. The conditions for his bail and pretrial release demand that he submit urine samples and download reports from the alcohol-monitoring device every week.
Police said Leyritz was drunk on Dec. 28, 2007, when he ran a red light in his sport utility vehicle in Fort Lauderdale and crashed into another car, killing 30-year-old Fredia Ann Veitch. No trial date has been set.
After the device failed, Leyritz, 45, called a friend in New Jersey, Azra Shafi-Scagliarini, who grew troubled after finding out Leyritz told his ex-wife, "Maybe it's better to end it all rather than go through this hassle," the Daily News reported.
Davie, Fla., police, who took Leyritz to the hospital, reported that Leyritz "never indicated a desire to harm himself or others."
"At no time was I suicidal, I was just very stressed out, as most people would be in my situation," Leyritz told the Daily News. "Aside from the pending trial I have a lot of other stress in my life. I ... can't provide for my family anymore. My brother-in-law has ALS, my children, friends and family are suffering.
"I constantly live in fear that I will go to jail for something I didn't do -- namely drinking -- because of technical glitches in the ignition device on my car."
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.